Welcome! So glad you’re here. Actually, I’m so glad I’m here too. I feel like writing songs from the depths of your soul and playing them for the world is brave. It takes courage to share something like a song that you’ve felt and lived and created, but for me, if I’m being honest...and consider this an introduction to what you’ll be getting here….lots of #realtalk, it takes a lot more courage for me to write for a blog like this one.
I used to be an English/Language Arts teacher for high school and middle schoolers. I loved it (minus the grading part...I’m REALLY bad at math). I was an English major at The University of Tennessee and basically picked English as my major because it meant that my homework would be to read books and to write. That did NOT sound like homework to me. That sounded like fun. And it was fun, and even though it kind of scares the living daylights out of me to share the things I’m writing that haven’t been edited down to a song yet, I still feel most alive and most alert when I’m writing my way through the days, so welcome to my blog. : ) Get cozy. Sit down and grab yourself a latte, or a lot of water, or juice…. You’ll be getting stories and songs, & some other stuff too.
The Night I Puked My Guts Out at Passion City Church
I hinted that I would share this story on Instagram, so I wanted to follow through and let you into what was a crazy night with Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA last month. I had the wonderful opportunity of leading worship and sharing some of my songs and story with Passion City’s college group. The plan was to drive to ATL in the morning, rehearse with their band, sing and share at their event, and then drive home the same night. Sounds crazy, but I love a late night drive. : ) It was a blast rehearsing with their worship team in the afternoon as we anticipated how God would meet each college student who walked through the doors that night…until… I suddenly started feeling VERY nauseous.
I was playing for an adoption benefit, and Emmylou, who had just turned 3, kept asking if she could come sing a song on stage with me. I felt nervous about this for her, so we walked her through when and where she would come on stage to sing. We had a little stool set up in front of a mic for her and the plan was for her to sing the first song of the night with me. As I was introducing her and getting her all set on the stool, she leaned up to the mic and said, “Actually mom, I’m gonna drum.” My heart started beating REALLY fast. This is not what we had planned... I was both a mom and an artist performing, and I had NO idea how to handle the situation.
I wrote this song after a conversation with my little sister. We were talking about the power that comparison has to steal our joy. The struggle is real. Whether it’s flipping through a magazine, walking down the street, or scrolling through an Instagram feed, comparison calls to us. We see the way a girl is wearing her hair, or who she went to the party with, or the job promotion she just got/vacation she just took/meal that she just made, and all of the sudden we are “not enough”. We don’t measure up, and what we have been given… our bodies, our jobs, our friends, our gifts and talents, our homes, our everything is not enough.
Have you ever been sick while traveling? It is my least favorite. I was on a radio tour up north when I started writing this song. We were visiting 3-4 stations a day in different cities to connect with radio stations and the incredible people who run them, and about halfway through our trip, I started feeling TERRIBLE. My throat was killing me & I tried to shake the feeling of fever creeping across my whole body by downing Advil every few hours. I rarely go to the doctor, but finally, on the third day, I told my husband and our radio promoter, Matt Ingle, “I need y’all to take me to a clinic.” It was a bad case strep throat. I cried. I was so bummed.
I’ll never forget the day I saw the email. I’m casually scrolling through my inbox, and my eyes settle on this subject line from my manager, Sam: “Ellie’s Opry Debut”. I couldn’t believe it. Plus, the date it was scheduled for was April 1st, so I thought, “This must be an April Fool's joke! There is NO way I am getting to play the Grand Ole Opry.” After quickly calling my manager to confirm that this was true, I celebrated with my precious husband over the phone! It’s the kind of news you get that makes you hold the phone above your head and dance! “Babes! Did you see the email? I’m getting to play the Grand Ole Opry!” Cue sweet congrats from my husband, squeals from me, and a small phone dance party.
It’s been about two months since my 2nd full-length record, Red Sea Road, was released into the world. I can hardly believe it. Releasing a record is “kind of” like having a baby. There are differences for SURE, as in I am sleeping better these days because I don’t have a tiny human to feed. #thankful. But the way that I write and record my music is very personal. I’m working through my faith and my doubts in song. I’m writing God’s promises into melodies that I need to sing to my own weary heart, and I labor over each line and each chord, and I try to grow something good , and at the end of the day, you end up sending the finished product to friends and strangers and the world, and it is TERRIFYING. You pray and you hope that God will use these songs, these pieces of your soul that are now floating out there on the internet and in stores across the country, that He will use them for good.
I was on a jet bridge waiting to board a Southwest flight to when I got the text. Scrolling through instagram, drinking a coffee, & this long message popped up on my screen. It was from my dad to our whole family, and my heart sank as I read the words. The tests had come back, & it was cancer. The tears welled up, I tried to hold them back and breathe, as I found my way to my seat on the plane. I couldn’t talk.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
- Exodus 14:14
I’m not sure what the past two years have been like for you and your community, but the past two years for our community have been heartbreaking. Red Sea Road is one of those songs that I had to write because I needed to sing what was true. I remember sitting down with my dear friends and co-writers, Christa Wells and Nicole Witt. I cried my way through catching them up on the year, and the tears were for the pain and the struggle and the loss we were walking through with several dear friends, but they were also for the way I kept being surprised by God’s faithfulness to draw near to our breaking hearts and make a way for us to carry on, even when the grief and the pain felt unbearable.
Y'all!!! Today is the day! Red Sea Road is released to the world and available everywhere you buy music. Thank you for buying, for listening, & for sharing these songs. I'm so humbled and grateful to feel like I have a family of fans and friends who support and encourage me along the way. It makes this whole music-making thing REALLY beautiful. I wanted to pull back the curtains and give you a little "behind the scenes" glimpse into why I wrote these songs. Think of it like taking a tour of the birthplace of this record.
Mountains. Waterfalls. Rivers. Campfires. Sunrises. 4 women. A drone and a mini-van. These are the makings of the "Find You Here" music video. I wrote "Find You Here" about the profound peace my family and I experienced in the wake of a cancer diagnosis for my dad. It didn't make any sense to have peace with so many questions and unknowns on the horizon, but we really did experience God drawing near to our broken hearts in a palpable and beautiful way. Emmanuel. God with us. The song is a celebration of the faithfulness of God, and how He shows up in the most unlikely, most broken places.